Monday, 16 March 2015

UK pursues Zimbabwean mother for £3000 cost of helping her give birth

UNITED KINGDOM – The National Health Service (NHS) is still pursuing a thirty-four year old Zimbabwean mother for the £3000 it cost to help her give birth in the country in 2013. The unpaid bill is part of the £62million cost of ‘health tourism’ to Britain, which has generated heated debate.
New mother: Zimbabwe-born Caroline Nyadzayo (left) was pictured with health minister Daniel Poulter (right) on his visit to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital in the maternity suite
 Caroline Nyadzayo, who was once pictured with the health minister Daniel Poulter on his visit to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, was an “NHS tourist” from Zimbabwe who is still facing demands to settle her hospital bill.

Nyadzayo, an advertising executive now in Harare, told The Sunday Times it was ‘unfair’ she was still being pursued, because the baby’s father is British.

“I know the system may believe I travelled [to Britain] to abuse the NHS benefits, but as a matter of fact I just wanted to have my first baby as a family and surely everyone is entitled to that.”

The couple was questioned about the birth when they entered Britain at Norwich Airport in October 2013 but were released when they agreed they would be paying for it.

“I was told because I was 31 weeks pregnant it was likely I was going to use the NHS to my advantage. We said we would pay for the birth. But we had no idea how much we’d be charged.”

The British government is facing growing pressure over the scale of “health tourism” to the country and the media in the UK are now using Nyadzayo’s case to profile the problem. Her photo opportunity with the Health Minister no doubt attracted attention.

Data released by NHS trusts show that one London hospital is owed £17.9million by foreigners not entitled to free services. A total of £62million is due to 100 trusts, according to information published under the Freedom of Information Act.

The scale of health tourism has been underestimated for years. The Department of Health recently estimated that the annual figure could be as high as £2billion. Analysis showed that one patient racked up a tab of more than £420,000.

Several others owed more than £100,000 for lifesaving treatments including dialysis, bone marrow transplants and chemotherapy. Another is being chased for more than £15,000 over treatment for alcoholism. Nehanda Radio
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